Strong outing from Voegele leads Neuqua baseball to 7th Regional Championship in 8 seasons

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A cloudy and rainy Friday leads to a sunny Saturday matchup as Neuqua Valley baseball and West Aurora clash after upsets earlier this week in the Regional semifinals. The 14-seed Blackhawks took down 4-seed Lockport and the 12-seed Wildcats took out 5-seed Yorkville to set up the regional championship. This highlight is sponsored by BMO.

Neuqua Valley starter Alex Voegele and West Aurora starter Zach Toma are locked in to begin the Regional final

In the top of the first, it’s Zach Toma at the plate, the third strike is dropped and it leads to a play at the plate. Wildcat starter Alex Voegele comes to home to tag out the runner in a photo finish at the plate. Wildcats get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the first Neuqua has a runner on but not for long as Toma makes the pickoff at first base to get the out.

Toma continues his early success, punching out the Neuqua batter in his first of eight strikeouts on the day. Still all square at 0-0 after the second inning.

Voegele has another batter on the ropes in the top of the third. No swing at the 1-2 and Voegele gets his second strikeout of the inning. He’s let up no runs through three innings.

Two outs in the bottom of the third and the pop-up is there for catcher Brady Smith. He stares into the south Naperville sun and snags it to end the inning. We’re tied at zero after three innings.

Neuqua Valley baseball gets some offense cooking in the fourth and fifth

Mike Langan is up to bat now in the fourth and his ground ball gets past the West Aurora second basemen to get on first for Neuqua.

After Will Zalabak earns a walk, Joe Barkley has a runner in scoring position. He takes advantage with a base hit to right field. Zalabak advances to second as Langan comes around third and slides in without issues to break the deadlock. Neuqua Valley leads 1-0 after four innings thanks to the RBI from Barkley.

Onto the fifth, after retiring the first two batters of the inning, Voegele gets the DH Emilio Ayala to swing on the breaking ball to go three-up three-down for his fifth strikeout of the game.

In the bottom of the fifth, Owen Shannon squares one up to right field to get the Wildcats offense moving again.

Next batter is Matt Knapczyk who hits to center field, but a diving grab by Mason Atkins stalls the Wildcats for now.

Pinch runner Josh Buerstetta got to second base on a wild pitch and it pays off for Neuqua as Paul Feret singles, sending Buerstetta home to expand the Neuqua lead to 2-0 after the fifth inning.

West Aurora’s bats get the game within one run in the seventh

Onto the top of the seventh inning now, Voegele walked the first batter, setting up Eliseo Liscano who cranks one to center right field, putting runners on the corners with no outs for West Aurora. That is the end of the day for Voegele, who gave up just four hits with five strikeouts.

The replacement is Josh Repmann who comes in for the save attempt.

Things start cooking for West Aurora as Cooper Matheny flies out to left field, Castillo fields it but Yusi has the speed to score from third. Now it’s 2-1 with only one out.

Reppman delivers on a 2-0 count, but it’s a wild pitch that sends Kaiden Williams to third base.

The next pitch ends up in play as Brendan Morris scoops it up and fires it home to Shannon who gets Williams out at the plate! It prevents the tying run from scoring and Neuqua’s one out from the win.

Neuqua Valley baseball wins a tight Regional Final against West Aurora

Ayala then pops up towards Center Field, Knapczyk calmly sits under it and makes the play. Neuqua Valley baseball hold on to win 2-1 and take home their seventh regional title in the last eight seasons. Voegele is the winning pitcher and Reppman brings home the save. Neuqua will face Downers Grove North in the IHSA Sectional Semifinals on Wednesday afternoon.

For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!